Morphological and molecular characterization of Puccinia kuehnii, the causal agent of sugarcane orange rust, in Cub
ABSTRACT Sugarcane orange rust caused by Puccinia kuehnii has recently become an important disease in sugarcane crops and its spread is causing great concern to growers. In this study, we analyzed spores from symptomatic orange rust sugarcane leaves collected in multiple locations in Cuba in a 4-year-period in order to characterize morphological traits of P. kuehnii, establish an adequate molecular technique to characterize it, and determine its infection court in sugarcane. Orange rust caused by P. kuehnii was confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and morphological characterization. AFLP markers detected high diversity in P. kuenhnii samples. Sequencing of rDNA regions, as expected, did not reveal differences and SSR markers designed for P. melanocephala could not be transferred to P. kuehnii. In addition to stomata, entry through prickles was also detected as a new infection court in sugarcane. Although the presence of pustules on the adaxial leaf surface was frequently detected, no clear correlation between this presence and density of stomata and/or prickles was found.